Design, development and performance of the pulse compression radar altimeter is described. The high resolution breadboard system is designed to operate from an aircraft at 10 Kft above the ocean and to accurately measure altitude, sea wave height and sea reflectivity. The minicomputer controlled Ku band system provides six basic variables and an extensive digital recording capability for experimentation purposes. Signal bandwidths of 360 MHz are obtained using a reflective array compression line. Stretch processing is used to achieve 1000:1 pulse compression. The system range command LSB is 0.62 ns or 9.25 cm. A second order altitude tracker, aided by accelerometer inputs is implemented in the system software. During flight tests the system demonstrated an altitude resolution capability of 2.1 cm and sea wave height estimation accuracy of 10%. The altitude measurement performance exceeds that of the Skylab and GEOS-C predecessors by approximately an order of magnitude.